How green is YOUR building?

A green building is energy efficient, resource efficient and environmentally responsible. But starting the process of change need not be an overly complex or expensive endeavour and you can start with any one of the following:

Water

Low flow faucet aerators and water saving shower heads are inexpensive and easily installable. You can also install flow restrictors in your existing taps which will reduce the water you use when washing your hands or when doing the dishes.

Heating appliances

Solar power will also save energy and add value to your property. With increasing electricity costs in mind, the long-term savings are appealing. Additionally, solar geysers and heat pumps also provide alternative solutions for water heating.

Cooling appliances

Refrigerators, freezers and air-conditioners are the biggest power consumers in your household. Adjust you temperatures accordingly during the seasons, and try defrosting your food overnight. When purchasing these items, consider brands with a high energy efficiency ratings and energy saving functionalities.

Lighting

Change your traditional light bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps or LED bulbs. These use a lot less energy and last much longer than traditional light bulbs.

Paint

Next time you paint, opt for paint with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Such paint contains fewer chemicals than traditional paints and provides for better indoor air quality.

Eco-friendly building materials

Make use of natural lighting wherever possible. Installing wooden floors? Look for brands that are Forest Stewardship Council certified or recycled material products.  These items have a lower carbon footprint and place less stress on our natural resources.

Green building is the future and fast becoming building best practice and a requirement for many clients when formulating their design specification for a new building. Additionally, it is also a necessary prerogative for each business and homeowner to consider becoming more environmentally sustainable and starting the process of greening their properties. You may even find that in time this saves you money and increases productivity.

It incorporates design, construction and operational practices such as, efficient energy consumption, sustainable use of water and building materials and the efficient management of waste, all of which are aimed at significantly diminishing or eliminating the negative impact of development on both the environment and its inhabitants.

Sustainable ‘green’ living is becoming a primary imperative for the sake of our planet and our health and pockets. Recent studies show that people in green buildings have fewer incidents of cold, flu and asthma as a result of environmentally preferable paint and furniture and the use of better ventilation which allows for more fresh air. It has been found that a green work environment shows a decrease in allergies and asthma, and a drop in absenteeism resulting from depression and stress, with a simple factor such as allowing more natural light in building design which reduces artificial lighting, contributing to these benefits.

But green building design does not necessarily only apply to new buildings and many existing buildings can also be retrofitted with green changes which can contribute to making the building more sustainable. While at first it might seem a daunting and expensive exercise, many green practices are actually quite simple, available and not at all expensive. In addition, being environmentally friendly may actually put more, not less, money in your pocket as it can result in savings to your electricity and water bills as well as a reduction in your operating and maintenance costs.

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